Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
School of Sociology and Social Policy
Social Sciences Building
Leeds, LS2 9JT
UK

Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 3770
Fax: +44 (0) 113 343 4415
gender-studies@leeds.ac.uk

News

Dr João Manuel de Oliveira: Gender and its Ghosts: Feminism and the Construction of Gender Theory

Date: 14 November 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Dr João Manuel de Oliveira: Birkbeck Institute for Social Research and University of Porto

Abstract

In the past two years, I have been working on a book on gender historiography trying to make sense of the multiple entanglements between feminism and gender theory. I have used the work of Benjamin, Derrida, Foucault and lately Deleuze and Guattari to understand how to tell a story of gender that : (a) is not based on an epistemology of history that only celebrates the winners, (b) takes gender as a pharmakon, ie, simultaneously medicine and poison for feminism; (c) uses the genealogy of gender as way to understand relations of power embedded in discourses; (d) allows an understanding of the mutations of the concept, its de-territorializations and re-territorializations, ultimately treating gender not as a concept, but as a rhizome.

Taking into account parts of the works of these philosophers I will present the cartography of three different accounts of this de-territorialized gender coming from a Western tradition of accounting for the ontology of masculinity and femininity. Using Avery Gordon’s (2008) proposal of a sociology of ghosts and haunting and Freud’s account of the uncanny, I will summon some ghosts of gender theory – the invert, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual and the feminist – to ground my several possible narratives using figurations and their material-semiotic contexts (Haraway, 2008).

The last part of the talk will show how these ghosts are present in the work of Judith Butler, who has actively summoned these ghosts and figures, creating a unique body of work on gender studies and feminist epistemology. This work of reframing the history of gender refusing to tell it as history, but rather as a cartography of several genealogies, provides a possibility of training the imagination for epistemological performance (Spivak, 2011), a basic condition to understand the promiscuity of the concept of gender and its multiple effects on feminist theory.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

Dr Jane Chi Hyun Park – South Korean Beauty as Transnational Pan-Asian Aesthetic: Reading Around and Beyond 200 Pounds Beauty

Date: 30 October 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Abstract:

This paper focuses on 200 Pounds Beauty, a contemporary South Korean film that uses humor to delineate the experiences of women who fail to meet dominant codes of beauty and femininity. Directed by Kim Young-hwa and released in 2006, the film follows the plight of Hanna, an obese twenty-something woman who has extreme plastic surgery to find love and become a famous singer.

Adapted from the manga, Kanna-San, Daiseikou Desu (Kanna’s Big Success) by Suzuki Yumiko this updated Ugly Duckling meets Little Mermaid story proved to be a surprising hit, selling 6.5 million tickets and earning $45 million at the domestic box office. It went on to win the Grand Bell Award for best actress and best cinematography in 2007, was adapted into a successful stage musical in 2008, and spawned a less successful sequel in 2010. The film also performed well in the region (grossing $550K in Singapore in a month and $190K in Hong Kong in 3 days). Finally, it catapulted Kim Ah-Jung, the actress who plays Hanna, to hallyu fame, eclipsing Jun Ji-hyun’s popularity from My Sassy Girl five years earlier.

Elsewhere I have argued that the commercial narratives, which we consume the most uncritically and which seem to have no overt ideological function often provide the richest examples of how dominant cultural values are being shaped and negotiated. As a way of exploring these values, I examine how the film’s melodramatic slapstick humor frames the protagonist’s journey and encourages the audience to sympathize with her. In particular, I want to consider how this sympathy, and in some cases, empathy might be read beyond a simple acceptance or celebration of normative femininity.

I attempt to do this with a close reading of how such femininity is depicted and complicated in the film through Hana’s physical transformation and its emotional, social and moral consequences. I then contextualize this reading in the film’s critical reception within Asia as well as through popular and medical discourses around beauty in Korea during and after its release. In so doing, I raise and attempt to respond, in preliminary ways, to the following questions. First, what new virtual model of hybrid and transcultural pan-Asian beauty is celebrated in this film and countless other hallyu media. Second, how can we understand its development and appeal for women and increasingly men, beyond reductive Westernization and globalization models? Finally, what kinds of social and cultural implications does this trend toward surgically modified beauty have, not only on members of South Korean society but also increasingly, those of other East and Southeast Asian countries as Korean cosmetic surgery tourism becomes ever more popular in the region?

Biograhpy:

Dr. Jane Chi Hyun Park is a senior lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Her research and teaching are concerned with the social uses of media technologies, the cultural impact of minority representations, and transnational flows of popular film, music, and television.

Her first book, Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema (University of Minnesota, 2010), examines the ideological role of East Asian imagery in Hollywood films. She has also published articles in a number of international journals such as Global Media Journal, World Literature Today, Asian Studies Review, Screening the Past, and Gender, Place and Culture and book chapters in East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture (NYU Press, 2004), Mixed Race in Film and Television (NYU Press, 2008), Complicated Currents: Media Flows and Soft Power in East Asia (Monash University Press, 2009), and The Blackwell Companion to Film Comedy (Blackwell, forthcoming 2012).

Jane is currently working on two research projects. The first looks at diasporic and transnational movements in contemporary Asia Pacific film, focusing on aesthetics, performance, and genre. The second looks at the consumption of Korean cosmetic surgeries, products, and regimes through tourism and popular media. Linking both projects is her interest in the ongoing development of Asian modernities through the circulation of cross-cultural styles, objects, and narratives.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

Bird la Bird – Holding Court on Class and Queer Femininity

Date: 25 October 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Western Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

Bird la Bird is an artist who straddles comedy and performance art, she has been described as a “Queer Pearly Queen” and a “Haute Couture Fishwife”. Bird favours collaboration and works with a host of artists and designers to create surreal and satirical performances. Bird’s performances explore couple culture, austerity, adoption, terrorism, catholicism, class, feminism, and queer femininity.

Bird was a collaborator on The FeMuseum project, a performative archive exploring Femme legacy and lineage led by Lois Weaver. She often works with the Duckie collective and appeared in their anti-capitalist neo-panto “Copyright Christmas” at the Barbican Theatre in 2011.

Bird graces the cover of Femmes of Power by Ulrika Dahl and Del LaGrace Volcano (2009). She founded Bird Club in 2006 with Maria Rosa Young, and went on to organize Bird Pride, the UK’s first-ever Femme presence at the annual Pride march.

Bird Club was a shell breaking queer femme cabaret night which blurred the boundaries between art, politics and partying. Bird will discuss why she prefers clubs to gallery spaces.

In this “eggciting” lecture, Bird will hold forth on her favorite subject—herself—in a witty and amusing manner. She will also show documentation of recent shows—in other words, lots of images and video of herself.

You are invited to join in and ask questions, if you can get a word in edgeways.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

Forthcoming Feminisms: Gender Activism, Politics and Theories Organised by the BSA Gender Study Group & the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Leeds

Date: 26 October 2012, 9.00am
Location: Weetwood Hall Hotel, Leeds

Keynote Speakers: Julia Downes (Durham); Imogen Tyler (Lancaster)

This one day conference will seek to explore the contemporary landscape of gender politics and theory at a crucial moment of feminist resurgence. Against the backdrop of political economies of austerity, in which women are disproportionately disadvantaged, and in challenge to ‘post-feminist’ cultural prophecies, current times indicate a renewed interest in, and commitment to, feminism. In academic climates, while women’s and gender study programs face threats of closure, the popularity of such programmes continues to grow; reflecting the continuation of feminist and gender theory as a flourishing and dynamic arena. This conference speaks to these political and theoretical paradoxes and flows in exploring varied (and sometimes opposing) feminist cultures, values, ethics, knowledges, challenges and aspirations across the levels of the social and cultural.

The conference will examine these issues in relation to temporality: how do current feminisms speak to those of the past and how might we imagine feminisms’ future?; the micro and the macro: how do grass roots feminist politics respond to structural processes and materialities?; the local and global: what are the similarities and differences – the uniting and dividing features – of national and international feminisms?; place and culture: how are feminisms formed through, and in opposition to, fields of habitus and spaces of public/private; citizenship and recognition: who can – and who can’t – find a place within feminism, who is – and who isn’t – able to ‘belong’?; equality and diversity: to what extent has feminism been mainstreamed?, what are the effects of this on gender studies and politics in and outside the academy?; intersectionality: how do social identities and material positionings impact on feminist commitments and lived experiences?, how do patterns of inequality bear on feminist aspirations and imaginings?; difference: how can feminism productively interact with trans and queer politics, theories, and communities?, how can feminism account for embodied diversities?

Papers will address questions of

  • Sites of Activism
  • Political Agendas
  • Spaces and Places
  • Gender Mainstreaming
  • Feminisms at the Local and Global
  • Intersections of Class, Race, Ethnicity, Faith, Age, Gender, Sexuality and Embodiment
  • Feminist Times and Generations
  • Agency and Affect
  • Political Economies
  • Inclusions and Exclusions
  • Transgender and Queer Feminisms
  • Representation, Media and New Technologies

Please click here to see the full conference programme

This entry was posted in Conferences, News.

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